27/11/2011 The Politics Show West Midlands


Jon Sopel and Patrick Burns are here with the top political stories of the week.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 27/11/2011. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Here, mixed messages for our region's economy. We ask Bohr the


Chancellor needs to do to sell us his Orton spending plans. And the


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2013 seconds


Hello again from the Midlands. A little later, more on that "Day of


Action", or is it "Inaction", if the public sector doesn't go to


work on Wednesday? But one day before that comes the Chancellor's


autumn statement. George Osborne will set out the options which he


hopes can stimulate growth, without going soft on deficit reduction.


Here with me to look ahead to both these main events are the


Conservative MP for the Staffordshire Moorlands, Karen


Bradley. She's a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee. Ian


Austin is the Labour MP for Dudley North and a member of the


Opposition's work and pensions team. And Lorely Burt, is the Liberal


Democrat MP for Solihull. She chairs her Parliamentary party. A


warm welcome to you all bus-stop So what does the West Midlands want


from the Chancellor this week? Our political reporter Susana Mendonca


has been gauging the mood on the streets of Sandwell, Solihull, and


The mulled wine is flowing, the chestnuts are roasting - yes,


Christmas has come to Birmingham again, after what's been a rocky


Unemployment's up in the West Midlands to 8.9%, and the economy's


still struggling - prompting the business community here to write


their very own wish list. But the man they've been writing to isn't


The two key areas we have asked the Chancellor to look at our


regulation and taxation. Proposed regulation between now and 2015


could cost the West Midlands economy billions, that is money


that isn't getting spent on hiring new people, it is a disincentive to


investment. We also think he needs to look at levels of personal


taxation and corporation tax. does he need a Plan B? Labour think


so - they want the Chancellor to lower taxes and abandon spending


cuts. All suggestions that make this mum from Bearwood's autumnal


wish list - but then she is a Labour party member. I would like


them to look at renewing the funding for local authorities, I


think the cards have been parked too severe for local authorities,


in particular, I am a social worker, I have had trouble finding a


position because the local authorities are not employing,


through no fault of their own, they have had to make such drastic cuts.


It's unlikely, though, that the Chancellor will be handing out cash


to local councils this week. After all, it's the tough austerity


measures he's taken to tackle the budget deficit that George Osborne


claims has made Britain a safe haven. But if you're a small or


medium-sized business here in Birmingham that's seen its takings


spiralling downwards, you might be hoping for a Plan A plus! And the


Chancellor's thought to be mulling that over - with measures to boost


growth on the horizon. That's certainly on the wish list at this


family-run factory in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter. It's been in


business for more than 300 years and caters to a very niche market -


making badges and medals for state occasions. But business has slowed.


-- demand has dropped. What I would like to hear from the Chancellor is


that he would be willing to relax the rules and regulations that cost


a lot of money for companies as small as ours, these are rules and


regulations that apply to health and safety, where they have


experienced people coming in, saying you have to make all these


changes to the business. So she wants an end to red tape, while


larger firms are looking for something bigger. Solihull-based


Miller Construction is building a new science block at Staffordshire


University and has just finished Stoke-on-Trent's new sixth form


college. Its chief executive says more state-funded infrastructure


projects would be a way to keep West Midlands firms in business and


create jobs across the region. Chancellor has only got so much


money to spend, and by investing in public works, you get a benefit to


the business community, to pound 84 for every �1 you spend in


construction, but you also create new facilities at for the West


Midlands. It's a long wish list. But with more gloomy economic


predictions expected to come, they may not get all they've asked for.


At least part of that wish list is about to come true, apparently,


because the Chancellor is expected to respond positively to appeals


like those of for some major government funded infrastructure


project. Midlanders want lower taxes, surprise, surprise, but what


is a surprise is that so do you, particularly a number of business


taxes. Are you sure, given that the Prime Minister says you cannot add


more debt to a debt crisis? That is right, we have to be clear about


the fact that we are boring �150 million a year. -- borrowing. We


have to put that into context. The only way we are going to grow our


way out of this downturn is through the private sector, so anything


that can be done to help the private sector to grow their way


out of the downturn and boost the economy has to be a good thing.


What about you, Ian? You have spoken about up grading the local


authority, what would you advise him to do? I think there are tax


cuts, we propose and national insurance cut or any company taking


on new workers. We reckon attacks on bankers could raise hundreds of


jobs and billions. The economy has flat lined, there is no growth at


all, only Japan has grown more slowly than last of the major


economies, and they have had an earthquake. Youth unemployment is


at record levels, higher than at any point during the recession.


What about the effect of the 50 p top rate of tax? An article says,


there is growing evidence that this tax is damaging the economy and


leaking taxes needed for public spending. I think it is


extraordinary that Karen wants to cut the top rate of tax. What she


is proposing and what many in the Tory party were deceived his tax


cuts for the super rich, I don't know what world she lives in, but


there are not one -- many of those in Dudley. And they are cutting tax


credit for ordinary families. would go down very badly with


people who were not the super rich. The point I was making was, how can


you use taxes to boost the economy. The only bit of personal taxes that


could stimulate economic growth is if we can get more of the wealthy


entrepreneurs investing in the UK. My point is that if the 50 p tax


rate is costing us tax revenue that we can use to pay for our teachers,


nurses, police, we should look carefully at that. Where do you


incline on this? Your party had to swallow its better instincts on VAT


when the government came in, so do you incline with your coalition


partner or a Labour? Well, if you put taxes up for the better off,


then I don't see that is such a bad thing. We have got to have some


fairness. And our input into what is happening now with regard to tax


is that we have taken 880,000 people of the lowest paid out of


tax altogether. These are people who spend their money, and that is


contributing to the economy. have all been celebrating the 1000


new jobs coming through Jaguar Land Rover, including in your


constituency. The problem is that the private sector, although it is


creating jobs, no way near enough to offset the results of loss of


public sector jobs, and nowhere near enough for the Chancellor to


close the gap for his economic strategy to have any success?


don't agree with what Ian says, but manufacturing industry is actually


growing in the West Midlands, and as a percentage of GDP it is


growing. That is what we do well here in the West Midlands. We are


putting money into investing in young people's jobs as well. One of


the things that came through was that she wanted less regulation,


which is one of the things your administration heaped on local


industry and it is holding them back, have you learned from that?


Where we can get deregulation we should do, but we need urgent


action to create jobs across the economy. Instead of cutting taxes


for the super rich, but repeat the bankers bonus tax, let's get people


into work, create new homes, have a cut on National Insurance for firms


creating jobs. I love this backbone is tax. It has been spent around


nine or 10 times. But in fact, the money he is suggesting, when you


take all the taxes of the people are receiving already, there is


less than �2 billion to tax them in the first place. On you more in


tune with the city then with the needs of people like ours? They are


quite resentful of the bankers. do already have a financial


transaction tax, stamp duty, we have a bank Leddy, raising more


than the bank bonus tax, and it there is a 50 p tax rate that is


paid on any bonus or any salary paid to a wealthy owner. That you


want to get rid of. If it is not raising tax, that is what we need


to look at. But I think it is important to remember that in the


Staffordshire mordant, 80% of employees are employed in the


private sector. I think you have to ask whose side these people are on,


to be honest. They want to cut tax for the super rich, they want to


cut child benefit for hard working families. Extraordinary. Not long


to go now. The Chancellor will get to his feet in a couple of days'


It's called a "Day of Action", but with hundreds of thousands of


public sector workers going on strike right across the Midlands


this coming Wednesday, it could equally be described as a day of


inaction. The TUC say this protest against the Government's pensions


proposals, will be the biggest "for a generation". Unison say it's


their biggest campaign ever, involving over a hundred thousand


people here in the Midlands alone, in local authorities and the health


service as well as police support officers. Wednesday's main rally


will be in Birmingham, with others principally in Stoke-on-Trent,


Telford, Coventry and Worcester. I asked the man in charge of the


union here how they could sustain their arguments that this pensions


issue was their members' over- riding concern. If you look at the


turn out in these ballads, between 27 and 31% only. No wonder people


are questioning the legitimacy. think that is a bit of a red


herring, because the proportion of how members who voted for strike


action is the same as the proportion of people who voted for


David Cameron, and nobody is saying that David Cameron... Democracy


doesn't count for him. The majority of our members that voted in that


ballot voted for industrial action, and that is why we are taking it.


Of those who take part, their votes Count, those who don't take part,


their votes are not counted. government says union should not be


jumping the gun while these talks are in prices. We have had no


choice. It is clear the government were prepared to make an illegal


offer, but they have not made a meaningful offer. -- a meaningful


offer. But the government say this isn't an unconditional offer, by


going ahead with the strike action, you make the risk that the


government will impose AA different deal altogether. That is simply


bullying, from a government you're not prepared to listen to people,


engaging in a lawful and democratic right to protest. What they should


be doing is getting round the table, talking to us seriously and making


a decent offer. But surely public sector pensions at the bone that


are unaffordable, it is not unreasonable to ask your members to


pay that bit more in, work a bit longer, just as people in the


private sector are having to do. This issue off before ability, it


is important to nail the myth. The pension scheme took in more than �2


billion in contributions more than it paid out last year. The local


government pension scheme took in more than �4 billion more than it


paid out. What has happened is the government asking public sector


workers to pay a 3% tax to pay off the deficit because none of these


contribution increases are going to go into the pension scheme. The


deficit was caused by a corrupt banking crisis, school meals


workers, care workers, school crossing patrols workers could


refuse collectors, none of those Dibble caused this deficit.


there the mood among the public sector unions for a protracted,


long, drawn-out campaign of industrial action, a winter of


discontent? What we are focusing on delivering it is the best possible


action on 30th November. Our hope as this will bring the government


back to the negotiating table. The thing that will settle this dispute


is an improved offer from the government. Your party doesn't


really know whether to stick or twist on this one, do you? You have


to distance yourself what will be an unpopular strike call but you


don't want to separate yourself from your paymasters? Nobody wants


to see the strike, but I think... So what is your advice to the


unions? What I think should be happening is clear. Mums and dads


are watching this programme, what they want to know is why it is


David Cameron swanning around instead of sitting around a table


with the unions, refusing to budge until this thing is negotiating and


the strike is cancelled. They should be negotiating it non-stop,


and there has been a failure from the government to do that.


government don't stingy putting 110% in to getting a solution, do


they? Only a few weeks ago they gave a compromise to support those


closer to retirement and those at the lowest end of the earnings


spectrum. I am not there at the negotiations, I am here.


Negotiations are not happening. a lot of these ballots were taken


before the compromise was on the table, so I would urge everybody


who was considering striking, go on the government website, find out


how you personally are affected. You may well find you are not worse


off. That is absolutely true. People who are within 10 years of


retirement, the lowest paid people, will pay nothing more. But the


government and the unions have had a very constructive talks since the


beginning of the year. They are not meeting this weekend. But they have


been talking all year. But it is a tricky one when the government say


what they are concerned about is to protect the people on the lower


earnings, and that is a difficult one for the unions to argue against.


You can negotiate about the benefits, the entitlement, all


those sort of things, we negotiated settlements with the unions, but


the issue here is this 3% tax. What have we heard today? We have had


carried wants to cut taxes for people on �150,000. But your dinner


ladies and teachers are not going to be affected by this. The lowest


paid will not be affected. Teachers, police support staff... I but did


you take it on average, people pay on average between 1.5 and 3.5%


into their pension, but the public sector is paying 19% in terms of


their contribution, the taxpayer. Do you have any sympathy for the


argument Ian is putting here, that these are responsible and diligent


public servants, who discharge big and important responsibilities?


agree, and I say... Let's put this in context, last year, the


teachers' pension scheme paid out billions, that is not pavements to


current teachers, it is payments to existing retired teachers. Of that


7.5 billion, only 1.5 was contributions from existing


teachers, so nearly �6 billion was paid by the taxpayer. That is about


the same as we pay in international aid every year, a big number.


Lib Dems have always had a strong identification with public sector


workers. Are you uncomfortable that this coalition has put you at odds


with what has traditionally been one of your big constituencies of


support? I would be if I considered that what we are doing was unfair


and unbalanced. I think it is a fair offer, given the fact that we


are living so much longer, and be untenable situation we are in at


the moment with the United money the taxpayer put into public sector


pensions compared with those workers themselves. A long, drawn-


out winter of discontent would be a PR disaster for Labour, wouldn't


it? You have got to ask that of the government that has caused this.


You have to ask about their values, they want to cut taxes for the


super rich, they have abolished the tax on bankers bonus, they are


hitting teachers, dinner ladies, nurses. The government have also


been accused of rather celebrating the fact that they feel it is


suggested that the unions have walked into a trap which rebounds


very well for David Cameron. disagree with that. I wouldn't have


started from here. If we were able to start from the beginning about


public sector pensions, it wouldn't be how we have done today. The fact


of the matter is, it is unsustainable. We are all living


longer, that is fantastic, but that means the taxpayer, the fewer


numbers of workers compared to those retired means there is not


enough money in the part to keep paying pensions. So a little bit


more of a contribution, and work a bit longer, so we can have one of


the best pensions around when you retire. Can this be settled before


the end of the year? I hope so. they get back to negotiations.


Absolutely. This is a critical, crucial period coming up. Thank you.


Download Subtitles